Football Practice Report

    UCONNHUSKIESDOTCOM D.J. Shoemate during Tuesday's practice.
    D.J. Shoemate during Tuesday's practice.

    Aug. 16, 2011

    Tuesday's Practice Photo Gallery

    STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut football team is less than 20 days away from its 2011 season opener against Fordham (Sept. 1) and the Huskies continue to hit the practice field during preseason camp. Tuesday's practice was open to members of the media and below are quotes from head coach Paul Pasqualoni, defensive line coach Hank Hughesand select players. To catch a glimpse of the action from Tuesday's practice make sure to check out the photo gallery link above.

    There will be on open practice this Saturday, August 20 from 8:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. The practice will take place on the fields behind the old Memorial Stadium and are off of Alumni Drive. Parking for these practices will be available for free in "D" lot. In case of inclement weather, please check UConnHuskies.com for updates.

    Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni
    How is practice going halfway through camp?
    "Good. Real good tempo. We are getting a lot done. Guys are getting better. I think so far camp is right in the middle. This is practice 14. We have 10 to go. Then five practices heading into Fordham. We are at 14. We're just over halfway. This is usually when the real grind of preseason camp comes in. It's another day of practices. Another meeting. Another treatment. Another night where you get to go to bed early and wake up early. The players are doing a good job, handling it all well. They are practicing hard with good effort."

    On freshman linebacker Jefferson Ashiru:
    "It's the same old story. When somebody goes out, you get the next guy in the game. Whoever's out is out. The next guy steps right in, just like in a game. You can't call the opponent and say, "we can't play this week". So you get the next guy. There's good things. He's a young guy getting great experience. He's putting in good work."

    Has the quarterback position shaken out any more?
    "They are all making progress and working hard. They are all doing good things. You can see that today. Each of them had some good plays, and some that they need to do better. We're in that process of letting the cream rise to the top. The more you practice and the more you work the more the cream rises to the top. We aren't gonna rush the decision. We don't want to fall into the trap of instant evaluator. We're pleased with how they are working and how they are competing. It's a pretty intense competition to tell you the truth."

    What do you like from your fullbacks?
    "Well, they are each a little bit different. (Mark) Hinkley has got some pretty good instincts. Pretty good awareness. He can catch the ball and move pretty well. Reuben Frankis the prototype fullback. Size, height, weight. He's an explosive guy, strong guy. Hard guy to bring down. He catches the ball, there's gonna be some yards after the catch. (Sean) McQuillan is a young guy learning the position. He got on campus in January. He's working at it. I like his athleticism. He's got the skill factors that you look for in the position. It's only a matter of time for him."

    "We lost a great player last year (Anthony Sherman). Somebody's got to step up. I like the guys on campus. I like the guys we're working with. We've got guys."

    Have you given any more thought to moving somebody to wide receiver from other positions?
    "Frank (Guardi) is working hard. Doing well. Learning the system. Getting some reps and trying to make them count. Because we've had some guys leave he's getting even more reps. We like him. He's working hard. We haven't necessary said we'll move somebody out there. As you saw today, we've got other guys that can run and catch the ball as well."

    On Nick Williams at wide receiver?
    "With our numbers, we have to make a concerted effort to get him in there, we need him. What I like, he led the nation in kickoff returns last year. That's pretty good. He's got real quickness, in and out of cuts. His play speed is very very good. I don't know what his 40-yard dash is. It might be 5.0. But his play speed is pretty impressive. He plays fast and he's got quick feet. He's got excellent vision and excellent instincts with his hands on the ball. He's just one of those guys thats productive. Part of the skill set you look for is play maker. You guys know what I playmaker is, I know what it is. They make plays. Sometimes you don't know how he did it, but they make plays. Nick is a playmaker. That issue of him being a kickoff returner, that tells you he can make plays. Let's try to use that in other areas as well. Try to get him the ball a few times other than kickoffs.

    Assistant Head Coach; Defensive Line Hank Hughes
    How is the defensive line so far?
    "We have some experience there, we have guys coming back in almost every position and you can't replace experience and that is what some of these guys bring to the game. Some of them are a little bit older, bigger, stronger and we do have some experience. I think we have a chance of being a good unit."

    "I think Kendall is bringing more power and more strength on the field and he has a great handle on that. The new coaches have brought some things to that position from the NFL that we haven't done in the past. Twyon looks quicker to me off the mark than he ever has. He has really focused on improving that area. They are both really applying themselves."

    On the defensive ends:
    "Jesse has been a guy that has been solid. Trevardo got his feet wet as a freshman and started last year. I would say that Jesse is the guy at that position and Trevardo to me is a guy that is improving, but still needs to work on some technique. He is one of the strongest, fastest guys on the team, we just need to keep working on some fundamentals with him."

    #91, Jesse Joseph, Junior, DE
    You have a chance to be a pretty good defensive unit this year, what do you think?
    "With coach Brown coming in, he didn't come in trying to feel his way in here and try to figure it all out. He came in with high expectations and threw everything at us and it was our job as players to get accustomed to it. Right now we are doing a good job, we are still in preseason so we are still working at it. Our major focus is to become better, tougher, smarter and when its time to get on the field be able to execute."

    What are the benefits of having almost the entire defensive line back?
    "The benefits are the experience, the communication and the bonding that we all have as players towards each other. We all know how we work, and we all know how to push each other without pushing anybody's buttons. We work together and allow the young guys to just learn from us while we try to rally everyone together."

    Do you expect to feel a little bit more pressure defensively this season?
    "If we do everything we should do, and everything we are planning on doing right now there shouldn't be any pressure. We should be able to just go out there and play UConn football and play like we always play. Aggressive and never let up."

    #1, Jonathan Jean-Louis, RS Senior, RB
    On being ready for the season:
    "I think I'm ready. I have been preparing every day. I have a great mindset and I am just trying to show my hunger. I try to show that every way I can, snap in and snap out. I try to show my hunger with every carry and catch I get."

    On earning playing time:
    "I hope I do. That's why I have worked so hard on rehabbing my shoulder. That's why I work hard every day. Now, I just have to leave the rest up to the coaches."

    On outlook on playing time:
    "I feel very comfortable, but I'm not content. I keep grinding. I'm trying to get to that starting spot."

    #47, Jordan Huxtable, Sophomore, RB
    On how practice is going:
    "It's going great. Everyone is working really hard and it's all coming together."

    On expectations for playing time:
    "I just do the best that I can. I am trying to make up for lost time."

    On what to do to help the team:
    "You just need to do whatever can be done, whether it is special teams or your position. It's important to make sure you are always working hard and doing what you need to do."

    On his strong points:
    "I love to hit. Whenever there is a downhill play and I can hit someone I am at my best."

    #31, Nick Williams, Junior, WR
    On what do on a kick return:
    "You get the ball, find the crease and have the confidence to hit it as hard as you can."

    On thoughts about coming to Connecticut rather than Rutgers:
    "When I was coming out of high school I was a Jersey guy and Rutgers had just made their run on the national scale. I was supporting it. When senior year came around I wasn't looked at by them in terms of scholarships and I was by UConn."

    On thoughts on receivers:
    "I think the veterans have been doing great and leading the team. The younger guys are going to be great players one day. I think everyone is really starting to come together right now."

    #57, Moe Petrus, RS Senior, C
    On the different running styles of running backs:
    "I think the coaches are going to suit the offense and run the plays according to who is in there. As far as their strengths and weaknesses, I think it will all balance itself out."

    On comparing the blocking between the running backs:
    "The blocking is the same. The running backs have their reads just like any other position and they have to read the blocks and decide what they will do. The block is the same for whoever is in there."

    #4, Twyon Martin, RS Senior, DT
    On getting in shape:
    "I worked out all season. I fed into what the coaches talked about and I really took it serious. I worked hard to become a better person. Coach Pasqualoni three goals for the team was to be better conditioned, tough and smart."

    On feeling the need to trim down:
    "I didn't necessarily feel like I had to trim down. I just wanted to perform at my best size. Trimming down was a way to do that."

    #48, Trevardo Williams, Junior, DE
    On getting in shape:
    "I have been in the weight room a lot. I was dedicated to getting bigger and stronger."

    On how much weight gained:
    "I think I have put on 35 pounds. I have gotten a lot stronger."

    On how this helps:
    "It helps me be more sturdy in run plans and facing lineman twice as big as me."